|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2012)|
What is Sparlock?
Sparlock, also known as Sparlock the Warrior Wizard, is the name of a fictional toy created by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (the corporate entity behind Jehovah's Witnesses) to teach children the dangers of magic and magical toys. It first appeared in a DVD entitled "Be Jehovah's Friend" which was released at district conventions across the United States and abroad in 2012. The digitally animated video that portrays Sparlock, which is called "Obey Jehovah," ends when the toy is thrown in the trash by its owner, a boy named Caleb, after his mother admonishes him for playing with a toy that has been marketed as being magical, as well as for making Jehovah "sad."
Since the DVD's initial release, Sparlock has quickly became a symbol for former Jehovah's Witnesses and has been adopted by them as a sort of mascot across the internet. Some have chosen to use the character's likeness because they believe that throwing Sparlock in the trash is reminiscent of the practice of disfellowshipping, wherein Jehovah's Witnesses excommunicate and shun members of their faith who have been deemed "bad associates." Some critics consider the video an example of childhood indoctrination, or complain that it portrays an attempt to use guilt to pressure the boy, Caleb, into behaving in way that is consistent with his mother's faith.
When the video first came out, many Jehovah's Witnesses, who had not received the DVD yet, believed it was a fake. Penn Jillette also tweeted about Sparlock on June 25, 2012, spreading awareness of the video to those who knew little about Jehovah Witnesses before.
Sparlock has become an internet meme. Many spoofs of the character and the video that portrays it have appeared online, including images with various slogans like, "This is Sparlock!" which is reminiscent of a line from the movie 300 (film), where the King of Sparta shouts, "This is Sparta!" Satirical videos have also begun to appear, along with Sparlock T-shirts and mugs that are available in several countries.
The video begins with a young boy, named Caleb, playing with his new Sparlock action figure outside. He runs indoors with the toy in hand and is stopped by his mother. She asks him to tell her what he is playing with. He responds, "It's Sparlock, the Warrior Wizard!" Note that Jehovah's Witnesses disapprove of magic in any form. Even toys or movies depicting anything that might be considered magical are considered to be potentially demonic or sacrilegious. So Caleb's mother becomes concerned at the mention of the toy representing a "Warrior Wizard" and sits him down at the dinner table for a snack and a talk about the toy.
Caleb answers, "Satan."
Caleb's mother says, "Right. Magic is bad. That's why Jehovah hates it. Do you really want to play with something that Jehovah hates?"
When Caleb doesn't respond, his mother shows him a book with a picture of Adam and Eve. They are depicted as being very old and unhappy in the picture. "Did they obey Jehovah?" she asks.
Caleb answers, "No. They disobeyed Jehovah. And he got very sad."
Caleb's mother tells him, "So what if you disobey Jehovah and play with toys he doesn't like? Do you think Jehovah will be happy, or sad?"
The video then depicts an image of a snake, representing Satan, coiling down beside Caleb wrapped around a Sparlock toy as if tempting Caleb with it.
Finally, Caleb admits that playing with a "magical" toy like Sparlock would make Jehovah God sad. Caleb's mother asks if he "wants Jehovah to be sad."
Caleb slaps the image of the snake away and shouts, "No! I don't want Jehovah to be sad with me."
His mother responds, "No! I don't want Jehovah to be sad with you either." She smiles at him and asks, "So what do you think you should do with this toy?"
The next scene shows Caleb outside with his mother. She lifts the lid on a trashcan and we see Caleb throwing the Sparlock toy into the trash. His mother tells him, "Caleb, I am so proud of you. You made mother very happy. And you know who else is happy?"
Caleb answers, "Jehovah!"
His mother responds, "Yes. Jehovah loves you very much for obeying him, Caleb."
To reward Caleb for deciding to throw out the toy, she offers to go on a bike ride with him. The video ends.
Issues Surrounding the Video
When the videos from the "Be Jehovah's Friend" DVD first appeared online, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society had them taken down. More copies of the videos appeared within twenty-four hours and remain available for viewing. In response to initial attempts to have the video removed, several more videos appeared that satirized the original DVD. This was done partially as an attempt to keep some version of the videos on the internet in some form, since it was hoped that a satirical video that portrayed much of the original would fall under fair use and would therefore not be removed.
The primary issue surrounding the videos are the way in which Caleb's parents discipline him for bending or breaking certain principles as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses. In the case of Sparlock, Caleb was playing with a toy that was marketed as having magical properties, something the leaders of their religion had forbidden. It is also noteworthy that many of the district conventions where the DVD was to be released took place at different dates depending on where they were taking place, so many Jehovah's Witnesses had not seen the actual DVD yet. Those who had not seen it before it was released on the internet assumed it was a trick created by apostates, or even atheists, to make the Watchtower Society look bad. In reality, the DVD is genuine.
The Video Meme
| This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Sparlock, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.